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‘New’ bell at Holy Rosary made in 1908

Construction workers install a bell atop Holy Rosary Catholic Church Wednesday, replacing one which had cracked. DL NEWSPAPERS/Kristin Miller

The resonant sound of church bells will once again be in full force as an area congregation replaces one of their bells which had been damaged.

On Wednesday, the installation of a new bell took place at Detroit Lakes’ Holy Rosary Catholic Church. And the bell which now graces the church-top has had quite the journey to get there.

It will serve as a replacement for one of the three bells currently hanging above the church, a crack in which has kept all three from working effectively.

“You can’t use a cracked bell… if you do, they tend to explode,” explained Monsignor Timothy McGee.

The bell slated for replacement had a home with Holy Rosary since 1903, making the move when the current church was built in 1967. McGee said that the crack had been present in the bell for more than 10 years.

The church completed a capital campaign this winter, with funds being dedicated to the replacement of the bell.

Church members watched their fundraising efforts pay off as the old bell came down, and the new one was hoisted into place.

“I’ve nursed this thing through for the last three years,” said Dave Gohman, who has supervised the project on behalf of the church and was on hand to see the new bell installed.

Although, it might be hard to really classify the replacement bell as “new.”

“The original bell is only five years older,” McGee said.

Indeed, the bell put in place on Wednesday already has a long history of its own.

Cast in 1908, it has chimed in the steeples of Catholic churches in New York and New Jersey. Holy Rosary obtained the bell from the Verdin Company in Ohio, which has had possession of it since it came down from its last home.

McGee, however, said that if taken care of properly, bells can continue to be used indefinitely.

And they sure plan on putting the bell through its paces.

“We’re going to have a tolling every hour (during the day),” said church secretary Mary Hager.

She added that there will also be a special tolling at the times of the Angelus, which will occur at 7 a.m., noon and 6 p.m.

Hager said she’s been at all of the planning meetings regarding the purchase and placement of the bell, and is excited to see the plan finally reaching its conclusion.

The three bells of Holy Rosary have also joined the technological age.

Long gone are the days of pulling a heavy rope to send the bells ringing. The church will use a digital system to set the timing of the chimes.

At the 10 a.m. Mass on July 20, Bishop Michael Hoepper visited the church to anoint and bless the bell before it was lifted to join the other two. 

McGee said that they hope to have the bells fully operational by sometime next week, pending the arrival of other needed equipment.